Should CPA Firms Spend Money on Advertising?

In a very crowded marketplace, CPA firms are doing what they can to differentiate themselves from their competition. As a result, CPAs and financial professionals are always asking my opinion whether they should advertise in their local newspapers and business journals. My stock answer is usually "no," unless you're going to advertise on a very regular basis so you could convey your messages all the time. What's considered "regular?" Probably every issue of a weekly publication if that's possible, but even then there are other considerations. For example, I work with one CPA firm that advertises in its city business journal every week. The ad is mostly the same in order to draw attention and keep messaging consistent. However, the firm also co-sponsors local events with the business journal in order to bring a second life to the firm's presence in the publication. I realize, of course, that not all firms have the means to execute a long-running campaign like this, but if you are considering advertising, PLEASE don't do it unless you can advertise on a continuous basis. One or two ads here and there probably won't get you any attention. You're better off, for example, holding a special event or seminar on a topical subject, and inviting prospects and clients to attend. The money you'll spend on something like this will give you more direct ROI than an ad would for probably less money than the ad would have cost. One last thought (and not least by any means): Any marketing program should align with your firm's mission and vision. In a future blog, I'll address how to develop a mission that make sense, is practical, and more than anything, attainable.